[ KEY REVIEWS | SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS
Tracklist: 1. Amarilli mia bella 4:32 (G. Caccini: Italy, XVI Century) 2. Come Away, Come Sweet Love 4:19 (J. Dowland: England XVI C) 3. Exulta filia sion 6:12 (C. Monteverdi: Italy, XVII C) 4. Il mio cocente ardore 4:07 (G. Felice: Italy, XVII C) 5. Dido's Laments (From Dido & Aeneas) 5:49 (H. Purcell: England, XVII C) 6. Usurpator tiranno 6:13 (G. Felice) 7. The Fatal Hour 4:26 (H. Purcell) 8. Air 4:57 (Anonymous: Spain, XVII C) 9. Orphee 2:33 (L. Rossi: Italy, XVII C) 10. Can He Excuse My Wrong? 4:08 (J. Dowland) Arranged by Goodsall / Pillow / Wagnon (tracks 2, 3, & 5), Pillow / Wagnon (4, 6, & 10), Goodsall / Pillow (1 & 8), Pillow / Jones (9), Goodsall (7). Line-up: Sarah Pillow - vocals John Goodsall - guitars Percy Jones - bass Frank Katz - drums Marc Wagnon - vibraphone & MIDI-vibes, keyboards, percussion (& backing vocals on 2) Guest musicians: Beverly Au - treble & bass viols (on 5 & 9) Chris Speed - clarinet (on 6) Produced by Marc Wagnon. Recorded & mixed by Marc Wagnon & Matt Hathaway at "Buckyball M" studio: summer 2000, NYC. Mastered by Fred Kevorkian at "Absolute Audio" in the fall of 2000, NYC.
Prologue. Nuove Musiche is one of the contemporary Brand X-related projects. Despite the fact that, along with singer Sarah Pillow, all four of the members of the latest Brand X line-up are here, the music of Nuove Musiche is radically different from anything that has ever been created by the 'Brand X & Co" community. This is kind of a challenge by some of the most talented composers of the XVI & XVII centuries for the forerunners of Progressive Jazz-Fusion in the XXI. In the final analysis, Nuove Musiche have created the ultimate crossover and proved that great music is eternal.
The Album. On the whole, the stylistics of "Nuove Musiche" album represents a new and unique brand of Classic Symphonic Progressive, filled with outstanding arrangements and wonderful operatic vocals. First off, however, let me direct your attention to those songs that, musically, are distinctly different from the other tracks on the album and even among themselves. What is interesting is, three of these four songs are by English composers: Come Away Come Sweet Love, Can He Excuse My Wrong, and Dido's Lament (tracks 2, 10, & 5 respectively). Overall, the first of them has a rather obvious folksy feel. Can He Excuse My Wrong is the only song on the album, which was created by the laws of Jazz. Filled with improvisations of a real vibraphone, piano, and bass guitar, jazzy vocals and vocalizes, the banjo-like rhythms of a semi-acoustic guitar, and the claps of hi-hat; it sounds like an old-fashioned jazz song. All of the arrangements are, however, marvelously diverse and virtuosi. Dido's Lament is by all means the real centerpiece of the album. What is more, this 'child' of Progressive's Fifth Element is one of the most unusual and unique compositions I've ever heard. While I can't express with the words how deeply I am impressed with Nuove Musiche's version of Dido's Lament, I can imagine how maestro Purcell would be looking if he were to rise from the dead and hear it. I doubt he would appreciate it, while if I were in his shoes, I would be more than proud of it. This song begins with an operatic (in both senses of the word- dramatic and very opera-like) singing by Sarah Pillow along with melancholy, low-tone passages of violin. In 40 seconds, the first musical act turns into a beautiful Symphonic Art-Rock with a distinct medieval smack. As if by magic, 25 seconds later the band suddenly jumps into a strange yet amazingly intriguing musical dimension, which is just full of miracles. To the accompaniment of the powerful rhythm-section, very unusual, diverse, heavy, and incredibly high-speed riffs and solos of an electric guitar cross the length and breadth of the other arrangements, created by the mid-tempo passages of a treble violin and ghostly chords of keyboards. Over all of this, the beautiful, dramatic, truly operatic singing of Sarah soars slowly like the snow-white clouds. Stylistically, these highly eclectic and contrasting arrangements present a highly innovative and almost indescribable blend of a few of the different genres, including Classic Symphonic Rock, Prog-Metal, and Jazz-Fusion. In other words, this is nothing else but Progressive's Fifth Element. All seven of the remaining tracks present that new and unique brand of the Classic Art (Symphonic) Rock genre about which I said in the beginning of the review. Exulta filia sion, Usurpator tiranno, The Fatal Hour, & Air (tracks 3, 6, 7, & 8) are as rich in intensive ensemble arrangements as the brilliant Dido's Laments. Apart from Sarah's wonderful vocals that are featured all of the songs on the album, each of the four of these tracks contain a lot of very diverse and truly masterful solos by each of the musicians, frequent changes of tone and mood, and other essential progressive ingredients as well. In particular, Exulta filia sion & Air (tracks 3 & 8) are, on the whole, characterized by the powerful arrangements, created mostly by rather harsh, fast solos and riffs of electric and bass guitars, and interplay between them and symphonic passages of varied keyboards, including the organ (on 8). The mellow classical-like passages and fast fusion-like solos of acoustic guitar and interplay between them and the oboe-like passages of MIDI-vibe or solos of bass guitar play a prominent role in the arrangements of Usurpator tiranno and The Fatal Hour (tracks 6 & 7 respectively). Both of the songs, Amarilli mia bella and Orphee (tracks 1 & 9) were performed without the accompaniment of drums. While the arrangements of the first of them consist of diverse interplay between passages of a semi-acoustic guitar and synthesizer, and solos of acoustic and bass guitars, there are only the slow and sad passages of a bass violin that accompany the magical vocals of Sarah on Orphee. Both of these songs are filled with a wonderful medieval spirit and sound rather dramatic, especially in the vocal arrangement. Finally, the instrumental parts of Il mio cocente ardore (track 4) are featured by varied interplay between solos of a bass guitar and vibraphone, and acoustic guitar passages.
Summary. First off, it must to be said that, in full accordance with the title of the album, the music of Nuove Musiche is exceptionally innovative. This album is another example of an amazingly inexhaustible inventiveness of these veterans, which is really more than remarkable. Sarah Pillow is a rather young vocalist, but her performing qualities are so great that, IMHO, none of the other contemporary female singers can be compared to her. Back to the "Nuove Musiche" album, I can bravely recommend it to most of the 'classic' Prog-lovers in general. In other words, I am sure that not only most of the connoisseurs of Classic Symphonic Art-Rock and Progressive Jazz-Fusion, but even the open-minded fans of Prog-Metal, will be amazed and greatly pleased with this album. I may catch hell for these words, but apart from all of those complex arrangements, that I was telling about in this review, or rather, even in defiance of them, Nuove Musiche has a solid commercial potential.
VM. February 1, 2002
Buckyball Music online:
Interviews of Prog [Marc Wagnon] on ProgressoR
[ KEY REVIEWS | SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS - LIST | BANDLISTS ]